Presentations are more than speeches that you rehearse for days or PowerPoint templates (such as these) that you spend weeks designing. Your body language during your presentation can leave a huge impression on your audience.
You could be presenting on a topic you are passionate about but be unable to hold the attention of your audience because of poor body language.
Now there are several elements to look at when talking about body language. Here we will break it down to help you better understand how to use your body language to rock your next presentation!
1. Facial Expressions
One reason face-to-face interaction beats phone calls or texts is because of facial expressions. Facial expressions gives greater meaning to a person’s words, according to ScientificAmerican. During a presentation, your facial expression plays a bigger part than you might have realized. While it might not always occur to you to control your facial expressions when speaking, it is important that you are more conscious of your facial expression during a presentation.
Carrying out a presentation with an expressionless face will bore your audience. Despite how good the message you are passing across is, your audience will lose interest. If your facial expression shows panic, fear or anxiety, your audience will concentrate more on your nervousness than what you are presenting.
During your presentation take on a relaxed, calm, yet eager look. A look that shows you are eager to share your content with your audience and that you personally believe your content is interesting enough to share. You could keep a light smile around your lips, open your eyes wider and keep your brows slightly raised, this will make you look more interesting.
Note though that showing off rehearsed facial expressions mechanically will not have the effect you seek. Instead, it will portray you as too stiff and nervous. Try to look as natural and relaxed as possible. The bigger the crowd of people you are speaking to, the bigger your facial expressions show be.
2. Body Posture
Your body posture is one of your loudest body languages. If you will be standing during your presentation, you need to be even more conscious of your body posture. Your posture sets a tone for your presentations. When presenting to an audience, do not slouch. Make sure you stand or sit upright. This won’t only improve your audience’s impression of you but also make you feel more confident. Slouching will make you seem very unprofessional or unserious and will make you lose your audience’s attention.
You also need to look relaxed during your presentation. Keep in mind that when you’re tensed, your body reveals this. Your body becomes rigid, your face shows it, and your movements become jerky. No matter how valid your message is, if your audience and senses that you are tensed, you won’t gain their trust. Remember to breathe and smile – as these can help you feel more relaxed.
Another way to get the best posture for your presentation is to consider your audience. The kind of audience you will be addressing can help you determine the best posture for your presentation. The way you will speak to the members of a board is different from the way you’d speak to your classmates during a course presentation. Some presentations require you to be less mobile while some require you to be more interactive.
3. Eye Contact
Eye contact plays a big role during presentations. You must have noticed over time that it’s easier to keep eye contact when you are confident about what you are saying or when you are being honest. Other times when you’re nervous or not being truthful, it’s harder to look people in the eye. This is also similar to presentations. When you make eye contact with your audience or at least a few of them, it shows that you are confident about the message you are passing across to them.
During your presentation, make sure your eyes move around the room, according to https://www.le.ac.uk/oerresources/ssds/presentationskills/page_16.htm. Staring only at the same place can make the rest of your audience feel ignored and get bored. If your audience isn’t that large, try looking at everyone during the presentation.
Also try not to stare at a particular person for too long, except you are trying to pass a specific message across to that person. Staring at a person for too long might make them feel uncomfortable. A brief eye contact here and there will leave the desired effect on your audience.
When using eye contact, be conscious and be deliberate about the impression you want to leave on your audience. When your audience knows there is a chance you’ll be concentrating your gaze on them at any point in time, they are most likely going to remain attentive.
Your movement during your presentation depends largely on your presentation set-up. Some presentations require you to remain in one position throughout. For example for presentations where you have to sit or have to make use of a fixed microphone. Other presentations may have big stages and wireless microphones which gives you the freedom to move around the stage.
For presentations with wide stages, it is important that you move around to help you engage with audience in all parts of the room. Moving around can also make you more interesting to watch and listen to. The key to getting the right kinds of movements is to ensure your movements are conscious and directed. Avoid looking like you are carelessly or aimlessly roaming about the stage. Also, be careful not to walk around the stage too much as this could get you tired and affect your speech. Know when to walk around and when to stand for a few moments to make your audience pay more attention to what you are saying.
For presentations where you have to sit down or stand in a particular position, gesticulating with your hands and your head can make your words more interesting. Gesticulating with your hands wields great powers during a presentation if you know how to do it effectively. You can show the difference between huge and little by doing so with your hands, or you can count with your audience by doing so with your fingers. When asking for answers or suggestions from your audience, you can raise a hand and wave it to indicate you are waiting on a response from one of your audience. When gesticulating with your hands, try not to overdo it as this can confuse your audience.